Book One – Bell, Book and Candle
A Chilling historical tale of lust, sorcery and devastating revenge
No female dares spurn the lecherous advances of Sir Henry Cruttendon, 17th Century England’s most reviled nobleman. To do so risks a retribution that would terrify the Devil himself.
But Elizabeth Fiennes is no ordinary woman, blessed with stunning beauty, intelligence and guile. Coming from an influential family, she believes she is safe.
What she doesn’t understand is that the Earl is determined to satisfy his lust and plans to use the wave of witch trials, fear and superstition sweeping the countryside to force her into his clutches.
And as he springs his malicious trap it triggers a chain of unholy events plunging hunter and prey into a maelstrom of deceit, terror and depravity – leaving them both staring into the face of true evil…
- Did or do you like to read comic books/graphic novels? Which ones?
I have to admit I’ve never read a graphic novel. I know – it’s incredible, isn’t it! But if I was going to, I’d probably choose the Judge Dredd series. I loved the movies, and their sly humour interwoven with the explosions and mean, moody dialogue. I love Men in Black and Hellboy, so I’d check them out as well.
I’m not that fond of Superheroes because I always think that having a special power gives them an unfair advantage in any face-off with the bad guys. The only caped crusader I have time for is Batman – it’s the car, right? Partly, but he’s more believable because he is just an ordinary person who gets his crime-fighting advantage through ingenious gadgets. In my dreams I could be Batman.
- Whom did you inherit your love for books/reading from?
I grew up in a house full of books. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t read, so I literally inherited a love of fiction from my parents. And I was very lucky in going to schools that had well stocked libraries. I devoured all their Sci-fi titles so I think writers like Isaac Asimov, John Wyndham, H.G. Wells and Ray Bradbury were a very important influence and helped shape my tastes and ambitions. Back in those days short story collections were still immensely popular, so when I started writing professionally, I naturally gravitated towards producing short stories – for magazines and small press anthologies, only moving on to novels years later.
- When you need a murder victim or someone you can diagnose with a serious disease or someone who is involved in a fatal accident do you sometimes picture someone nasty you have met in real life and think ‘got you’ LOL?
Everyone who has insulted me, snubbed me, cheated me, underestimated me, taken my last bar of chocolate or otherwise incurred my wrath, ends up dead – as one of the characters in my stories. The more they’ve upset me, the gorier their fictional fate. Revenge is a dish best served up cold – and in print!
- How do you come up with the names for your characters?
I’m very picky choosing character names – that’s because I believe that a character’s moniker goes a long way in helping suggest their personality and background. Readers will happily accept a witch called Lilith as it suggests a timeless, ethereal, magical character but they’d struggle to believe a sorceress called Jenni because it is too mundane and too modern, and doesn’t – if you’ll forgive the pun – conjure up any mystical connotations.
I always try to give villains surnames with a hard, almost grunting, consonant sound at the beginning – Kravnik, Drubrick, Modjeski, Marek. And, as I set many of my Gothic horror stories in Eastern Europe, I tweak names to make them sound more Slavonic – Thomas becomes Tomas, Victor becomes Viktor, George becomes Georg and the like.
- Do you write other things beside books (and shopping lists 😉 ?
I can’t keep my butterfly mind under control and it constantly bombards me with ideas for all sorts of different plots, eras and genres. That means that I’m just as likely to wake up with a comedy idea buzzing in my brain as a spooky one.
My answer is to write under two names – I create humour stories under my real name Iain Pattison and Gothic horror/ dark fantasy novels and short story collections under the pen-name Jay Raven. I’m currently focusing on my Jay Raven output – but even then, it’s sometimes a struggle to choose whether my next book will feature witches, vampires or twisted fairy tales.
- If a movie or TV series was made from your books, would you be happy with the ‘based on’ version or would you rather they showed it exactly the way you created it?
That’s an intriguing question. I’d have no problem with seeing my work interpreted or re-imagined, with a sympathetic screen adapter coming fresh to it and bringing new insight to the plot and characters. But that involves a lot of trust. A bad adaption where the author’s original vision is mangled can destroy a book’s magic and credibility.
If I had a choice, I’d prefer to have my books adapted for television rather than appear as movies. There are two reasons for this. Some stories are just too complex and too densely plotted and populated to be squeezed into two hours. Important sub plots and minor characters have to be sacrificed. TV lets a story breath.
In addition, some movie companies buy the rights to a popular series, but will only make the first book into a film – to see how it plays with audiences – and if it doesn’t make enough money, they abandon their plans for the rest of the series.
- Who would you like/have liked to interview?
Sadly, the two authors I’d liked to have interviewed are both no longer with us. I’d have loved to have met Terry Pratchett – the king of comedy fantasy. His Discworld novels are sheer genius, packed with gags, insight and adroit observation of human foibles.
The other author I’d have really enjoyed meeting was Angela Carter – the writer of The Company of Wolves. She was famous for her magical realism books such as Night at the Circus, The Magic Toyshop and the Infernal Desire Machine of Doctor Hoffmann.
I’m told my dark fantasy reminds people of her work and I’d think we’d have had very intense, otherworldly conversations – sprinkled with laughs and chills.
- Do you have certain people you contact while doing research to pick their brains? What are they specialized in?
Not really. I do all my research on Google! My books are set in an imaginary sinister-edged wonderland of malice and magic, which bears very little resemblance to the real world. All my Gothic horror is set in the past – ranging from 17th century England to 19th century Transylvania, and apart from making sure there are no obvious historical inaccuracies I let my imagination have full rein.
- Is there someone you sometimes discuss a dilemma with?
If I’ve hit a plotting problem, I’ll chat to other author friends, but beyond that I tend to talk out any dilemmas and doubts with my wife Liz. She’s very good at spotting holes and inconsistences in the work and brings welcome fresh eyes to any project. But, ironically, she’s not a huge fan of the type of stories I specialise in. In fact, if she hates something, I write I know it will sell well!
- What is more important to you: a rating in stars with no comments or a reviewer who explains what the comments they give are based on (without spoilers of course)
Don’t get me wrong – having anyone read and rate your work is wonderful, but star scores on their own are considerably less helpful than full reviews with comments. If, for example, someone gives a book three stars, with no explanation, all that tells the author and other potential buyers is that the reader didn’t have a fully satisfying experience – but not why.
It could be that they’d spotted a flaw in the plot, characterisation, descriptions, or believability – something that could influence other people making a choice about reading the book. If they’d left feedback it could offer the author a chance to tweak and improve the novel.
On the other hand, people sometimes give poor scores for the most arbitrary of reasons – they don’t like fiction written in first-person, they didn’t read the blurb properly when buying it and the book genre or style isn’t what they expected or even that the paperback version of the book arrived in the post damaged!
Comments allow other readers to read the criticisms and see if they judge them valid or something trivial that wouldn’t put them off.
Thank you, Jay Raven and Rachel’s Random Resources.
About the author
Jay Raven is the author of Gothic chillers and historical horror reminding readers that the past is a dangerous place to venture, full of monsters and murderous men. He blames his fascination with vampires, witches and werewolves on the Hammer Horror films he watched as a teenager, but living in a creepy old house on the edge of a 500-acre wood may have something to do with it.
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